Crises, like rainy days, are inevitable and it’s always better to be prepared than caught in the storm without an umbrella. While the COVID-19 crisis has caught many of us off-guard and feeling underprepared, this situation can be seen as an opportunity to learn resilience, patience and how to embrace change. Within business, the crisis has shown us the necessity of brand resilience and strategy— with the right leadership brands will emerge intact ready for the future. The key caveat to that last sentence is with the right leadership.
How can we lead in a moment where no one knows exactly how long the crisis will continue or what the world will look like in the virus’ aftermath? What makes for a good leader in times of stress? Below we’ve outlined tips and strategies for kind, competent and successful leadership in times of crisis and beyond.
Stay Calm and Analyze the Situation
Before you do anything; put your energy into remaining calm. Take a moment to read and analyze any available data before reacting. The goal here is to avoid panicking or making decisions from a strictly emotional state. Get facts on the crisis and learn as much as you can, quickly. While this is a time to pause before acting, you also don’t want to dither too long. When you do react, you’ll be more able to speak from a collected and reasonable place with information and facts on your side.
Create a Plan
Once you’ve analyzed available data, your next step should be to create a plan. It doesn’t need to be a concrete plan, but rather one that can pivot and that change as necessary to address the needs of the crisis. For example, at Pixel, our CEO, Antonio Ramirez and team formulated a work from home plan, so that Pixel 506 could continue to serve its clients. His decision was made because it was best for the safety and well-being of his employees. When the time came to move from the office to home workspaces, he communicated the news calmly and as a temporary measure taken for the health of his teams.
Communicate your plan, but be clear that the plan is subject to change with conditions of the crisis. Employees and clients want to know that you have a plan in place for this type of situation.
It’s not just the WHAT or the details of your plan that are important for your team and vital to your leadership, but it’s also the HOW. How do you communicate the news? In stressful times, it’s critical to communicate with empathy. Let your employees and clients know that you have a plan to guide the business; but that you too feel the strain of the crisis.
Stay in touch with your team. Once your plan is in place, make sure you maintain contact with your teams. Group contact, as well as 1 on 1 contact between employees and individual managers, is important in such times. At Pixel 506, once all teams were working remotely, we set up daily calls with the team and encouraged managers to communicate frequently with team members one on one.
Don’t Make Assumptions
Don’t assume you know how your employees are feeling. Because as a CEO or leader of any kind, you’re making sure to keep your feelings and emotions in check, it doesn’t necessarily mean that others are doing the same. During check-ins and meetings, make sure to ask how people are doing; be kind, enquire after your teams’ emotional states. A small touch base on a personal level will go a long way toward making your employees feel valued, heard, and ultimately reassured so that they can focus on doing their jobs.
Empower Your Employees
Good leaders teach others to lead. Philanthropist Andrew Carnegie said it well, “No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it.” Take this opportunity to empower your team. Delegate duties with confidence to managers. Allow teams to make decisions and give them ownership over projects to keep them motivated and engaged, especially while they are all working from home. Make everyone on the team feel a level of ownership and responsibility on their projects and towards clients, and the quality of work will soar.
Create momentum for your teams. Find your brand’s value, at its core what does your business, your company offer? Fine-tune your mission statement and continue to set your business up in a way that will return your company to business quickly, so that when the crisis moment passes, as it inevitably will, you’ll be well-positioned to be an industry leader. At Pixel 506, as new business was secured, each project, no matter how big or small, was a celebrated chance to keep building our brand. We finished our website make-over and launched to continue to increase brand awareness and recognition. When business resumes, clients will be able to easily and immediately access us through our new and improved site.
Lead by Example
Great leaders lead through example and take their own behavior seriously as they know that it sets the tone of the culture for the business. Warren Bennis, a professor and pioneer of leadership studies said, “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” Make sure you keep your vision intact and that you communicate positively to your teams. If you’re asking your team to work around the clock during a crisis, you should demonstrate an equal work ethic.
What’s ahead for the global economy? No one is quite sure what the world will look like when we emerge from the Covid-19 virus. But with good leadership and the right values, top brands and businesses will arise and continue to serve their communities.
We want to hear from you. Tell us about leadership skills that served you during the Covid-19 crisis.